BBQ and grilling cookbook season is in full swing and one of the latest and greatest entries is Be the BBQ Pitmaster: A Regional Smoker Cookbook Celebrating America's Best Barbecue by Will Budiaman.
While we are somewhat bias as the book includes a feature on, and several recipes by, Grillocracy founder Clint Cantwell, this ode to America's favorite cooking method is the ultimate trek through the various regions that define our shared BBQ tradition.
Not only does Will bring together a wealth of "how-to" information and tips from Clint and other top pitmasters, his latest cookbook features 125 recipes that range from the classics like pulled pork and beef brisket to more contemporary and creative offerings like Clint's popular grilled Southern coleslaw. Here's one such recipe for barbecued baby back ribs, courtesy of Be the BBQ Pitmaster by Will Budiaman (Somoma Press, 2016).
BARBECUED BABY BACK RIBS
Baby back ribs are a leaner cut than spareribs and a bit trickier to cook. Just remember to keep the temperature steady inside the cooking chamber and they’ll turn out great.
4 (2- to 21⁄2-pound) racks baby back ribs
3 tablespoons kosher salt
3 tablespoons freshly ground black pepper
Vegetable oil, for brushing the grates
2⁄3 cup Kansas City–Style Barbecue Sauce
Trim the fat from the ribs and season them with the salt and pepper*. Let them stand at room temperature for 1 hour.
Pre-heat the smoker to 225°F to 275°F.
If using wood chips or chunks, soak them in water for at least 15 to 30 minutes and add them to the smoker following the manufacturer’s instructions.
Oil the smoker grates and place the ribs on them, meat-side up. Close the cooking compartment and cook the ribs for 1 1⁄2 hours, or until the bark is reddish brown. At this point, you can wrap the ribs in aluminum foil if you are concerned they will lose too much moisture as they continue cooking. Add wood and fuel as necessary to maintain the smoke and temperature in the smoker.
Turn over the ribs and continue cooking them for 1 1⁄2 more hours, or until they pull apart with a gentle tug.
Remove the foil (if used) and turn the ribs meat-side up again. Baste the ribs with the Kansas City–Style Barbecue Sauce and cook them for 10 more minutes, or until the sauce is set.
Remove the ribs from the smoker and let them rest for 1 hour before serving.
* The back of pork ribs is covered with a membrane. If you leave it on, it can help keep the ribs from falling apart when you move them. But some pitmasters say it can also prevent the meat from absorbing smoke. Try it both ways to see which you prefer.
Recipe courtesy of Be the BBQ Pitmaster by Will Budiaman (Somoma Press, 2016)